These days, straight to video films are not the same as the movies that never made it to theaters in the eighties. It’s 2009 and the words “straight to video” have a different meaning and image all together now. Back then, the movies that went to video right away were those cheesy “B” flicks that you would find playing at two-thirty in the morning on Cinemax. Not the case anymore – No, Sir! Today, if your film goes to video, that just means it was good enough to get a distribution deal. The big screen movies you leave your house for now need marketing, publicity and a campaign that is almost, if not equally, as expensive as the movie itself.
With how the movie “biz” is nowadays, you’re damn lucky if you’re acting in any film. Not to say that you should just take a role in anything without considering the artistic standards of course. The simple truth, however, is that roles in features today are few and far between. This is not to scare you, just to prepare you for the climate of the business as of late. So, if you are fortunate enough to secure a role in a really good film, independent or commercial, you should not take that opportunity for granted; not by a long shot. So, no matter how big your dreams are about being an actor in features, no independent film is too small. In fact, a lot of the best cinema these days comes from independent films – films that don’t have a distributor behind it at first but then later sell to a huge studio after the executives see how amazing it is at a film festival or a distributor screening in town.
Plus, another bonus of acting in independent features is that you get a stronger chance to go in on auditions, unlike the tight chances of getting in the very “closed” auditions of a huge studio film. Of course you’ll still need an agent or a manager most likely to book you the audition for the “indie,” but you’ll have a great chance to get in the room with the casting director of that particular film and an even greater chance of being considered as indie films do not necessarily look for the “big” name actors – just the right look and voice for the part as they care more about the art of the film then it’s commercial value. Now this is not the case all the time of course. A lot of indie films will look for big name actors as well, drawing them in by the unusual content of their storyline or just the edgy-feel of the film. They want to make a great film on a small budget after being rejected financially by the studios. But, after pulling in some names of value (actor-wise), they can go back to the studios with a finished film for them to distribute. So, the process is not so black and white, being one way or another, but rest assured there are a lot of indies that don’t care about name value but just the artistic content of the film itself.
The best part of independent cinema is that you get to spread your “talent” wings in ways that you might not usually get the chance to in a big budgeted studio flick; because they have a stronger regiment with so many dollars invested, the filmmakers have to answer to the studio executives for every creative decision; unless of course the director is already established in a big way (i.e. – Spielberg, Lucas, Scorcese, etc.)…In an indie you get the freedom to show your range and take your craft to artistic places that might even surprise you, let alone the filmmakers and the audience!